So many teams around the state have gotten started on their summer training regimen as the summer heats up – isn’t it exciting to start with a new team, building for a new year? A bunch of camp deadlines are coming up, so get on those registrations! For those starting up here at home, building an athlete takes more than time on the gym floor. Our resident nutrition expert – Val Schonberg from EnlightenU Nutrition Consulting put together some helpful ideas for summer practice eating. Read her guest article below, or download it here:Summer nutrition tips for the dancer Stay fueled, hydrated, and don’t forget that sunscreen as we hit the fields and gyms this summer.
Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Summer
For many, summer means hanging out with friends at the beach, backyard BBQ’s, and fun getaways to the cabin. Although well-intentioned, these great times often come with tempting snacks and goodies that challenge dancers to wonder how to navigate summer eating, while staying healthy for their sport.
Following are some FAQ’s dancers ask me about staying healthy and well fueled for practices while enjoying the summer months!
What should I eat before my morning practice? The most important meal of the day is breakfast. However, for many youth athletes, summer and sleeping-in go hand-in-hand resulting in not taking time to eat, or not eating enough, before running out the door. Showing up for long practices without enough “fuel” often results in decreased performance, increased risk of injury, and higher cravings for sweets later in the day (a sign that your body is too hungry). Eating a breakfast with protein, carbs, and healthy fat (i.e. Greek yogurt, berries and granola with nuts or seeds) kicks your metabolism into gear and provides energy for practice and the rest of your day. Read “Breakfast for Champions!” (https://enlightenunutrition.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/breakfast-for-champions/) for more breakfast ideas.
What are quick and easy ideas for lunch? Similar to breakfast, skimping on lunch often results in cravings and overeating later in the day. But, for many high-schoolers, figuring out “what to eat” can be challenging. First, plan to include a balance of protein-containing foods, (such as deli meat, chicken, dairy foods, beans or peanut butter) along with wholesome carbohydrates (whole grain bread, rice, potatoes, fruit, and vegetables) and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, hummus, nuts, seeds, etc). Second, go grocery shopping with your mom/dad or whoever does the shopping in your household to be sure the foods you like are on hand. Finally, plan to include a fruit and/or vegetable with your meal. They provide fiber to help you feel full; and, most important, are helpful in decreasing inflammation which helps your body recover faster from long practices or strenuous workouts.
A few examples of quick and easy meals include:
Sample Meal #1
Wrap or sandwich (with chicken, turkey, egg salad, tuna salad, etc; whole grain bread or tortilla; romaine or spinach leaves and tomato; and mayo, hummus or avocado)
Nectarine or small piece of fruit
Sample Meal #2
Frozen entrée, such as Amy’s, Kashi, Evol or Luvo brands
Raw veggies (i.e. cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, etc.)
Glass of milk
Sample Meal #3
Tuna salad sandwich (or wrap) with light mayo, topped with tomato and spinach leaves
Sample Meal #4
Leftovers (stir fry, tacos, chicken and rice, beef and potatoes, etc…)
Add: fruit and glass of milk
What’s the best way to prevent weight gain or lose weight during the summer? Weight management for athletes should be more about maximizing body composition to improve performance than a number on the scale. Restrictive eating usually backfires and consequently results in even more weight gain. Dieting athletes also struggle with decreased energy, fatigue, moodiness, and increased injuries that have a detrimental effect on performance. Instead, avoid the cycle of “diet at breakfast, diet at lunch and blow it at night” and give yourself permission to eat enough earlier in the day when you are most active. Second, include protein-containing foods (eggs, beans, fish, beef, poultry, nuts, dairy products, etc.) at each meal and snack. Third, enjoy high sugar foods like soda, candy and desserts in moderation, which means “every once in a while” vs. “all the time” or the opposite, “never”. Finally, eat slowly and mindfully only when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably full. Emotional eating or eating when you are sad, bored, tired, stressed, etc., rather than when you are physically hungry, can sabotage efforts at keeping your weight in check. Instead, learn to use other coping mechanisms such as talking to a friend, journaling your feelings, or listening to music to help yourself feel better.
What are some ideas for healthy snacks? To begin with, make time for meals. Eating 3 balanced meals will provide you energy for the day and prevent mindless snacking. When snacks are needed to prevent ravenous hunger, try to include a protein-containing food along with a wholesome carbohydrate and plenty of water to drink. Following are some examples:
Protein + Carbohydrate
Cottage cheese + sliced peaches
String cheese + whole grain crackers
Yogurt + berries
Yogurt + granola
Peanut butter + tortilla & banana
Milk + cereal
Leftover taco meat and cheese + chips (heated)